Understanding the Oral Microbiome and Oral Dysbiosis

Most people know the human mouth is full of bacteria, but not everyone realizes that a diverse community of microorganisms – including viruses, fungi, and archaea, as well as bacteria – inhabit the oral cavity, and that the balance of this microbial community can impact their overall health. When you have an oral microbiome in balance, your mouth is healthy, but what happens if that’s not the case? Learn more about how your oral health depends on that crucial balance of bacteria and other microorganisms.

Graphic showing an open mouth with tongue sticking out, with inset of microscopic bacteria, depicting the bacteria found in the mouth

What Is the Oral Microbiome?

Your oral cavity is full of microbes, from bacteria to viruses and fungi. Your tongue plays a big role, providing the cavities that allow bacteria to multiply – especially those that are aerobic, meaning they grow where they have access to oxygen. Your gums, on the other hand, host anaerobic bacteria, which don’t require much or any oxygen.

As Nisha Kalra, DDS says, “Think of your oral microbiome like a garden that requires maintenance. If the plants begin to die, weeds will come in to take their place. The oral microbiome is in a constant state of balance, and if not managed with proper care, the weeds come along and cause imbalance.”

What Is Oral Dysbiosis?

An imbalance or disruption in the normal microbial community within the oral cavity is called oral dysbiosis. It often occurs after you complete a round of antibiotics, which can disrupt the balance of microbes in your mouth. The antibiotics, while targeting harmful, disease-causing bacteria in your body, also destroy beneficial bacteria that are naturally present in the mouth and in balance with the entire microbial ecosystem.

Oral dysbiosis can lead to issues like:

  • Cavities

  • Gum disease

  • Bad breath (halitosis)

  • Oral thrush

Oral dysbiosis doesn’t just affect your oral health, however. The proliferation of certain bacteria can cause problems with your overall well-being, too.

Bacteria like P. Gingivalis and F. Nucleatum, which live in your mouth, have associations with colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and even Alzheimer’s disease. This is because they cause inflammation and promote the progression of tumors.

What to Do if You Suspect You Might Have Oral Dysbiosis

It’s not always easy to know if you have an imbalance in your oral microbiome. The imbalance can begin subtly, but it will usually have symptoms.

Some of the most common signs that you may have an imbalance include having frequent issues with bad breath and being prone to developing cavities. You may also notice your gums bleeding or becoming more tender than they used to be.

In some cases, you may have an even more obvious sign – the development of a yeast infection like oral thrush.

An excellent way of knowing is by

. It’s simple, and you can use the code LIFESTYLE to start.

Once you know you have oral dysbiosis, what should you do?

One of the first steps is to look at your oral hygiene routine. Are you brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing? Do you visit a dental expert for regular cleanings? If the answers are no, then you can start there.

The next step, however, is to turn to a dental professional like Dr. Nisha Kalra. She will help you understand where the problem lies and offer help. This can be in the form of supplements like:

  • Xylitol

  • Arginine

  • Nitrates

  • Probiotics

  • Hydroxyapatite

It can also mean making changes to your lifestyle, including eating better, stopping the use of tobacco products, and much more.

Compassionate Dentistry at Berkeley Lifestyle Dentistry

If you suspect that you may have an imbalance in your oral microbiome, turning to a professional like Dr. Nisha Kalra at Berkeley Lifestyle Dentistry in Berkeley, CA, can make a difference.

With her focus on helping you make changes to your lifestyle that will improve your oral health, you can achieve lasting results that affect your quality of life. Don’t struggle with cavities, bad breath, or even gum disease. Contact Berkeley Lifestyle Dentistry today to get started.


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